While the Speaker, Dame Majorie Scythe, called for order once more, the Minister of Economic Decline took a sip of water. Then he coughed and began his address.
“Our priorities remain the steady and planned dismantling of superfluous industries. This year I announce perhaps the most difficult of all.”
“It’s Big Food; I told you it would be,” whispered Stumpy to his old friend Onan Hash, former prime minister but now stuck on the back benches after the biodegradable contraceptive scandal.
“Fertiliser and pesticide factories are on notice. They’ve seven years and the last will be mothballed in 2028…”
The opposition groaned.
“And just in case anyone thinks he can leave it until the last minute… you see we don’t want a rush at the end. An orderly programme of closures will take place starting in two years time, with lots drawn.” There was outrage on the benches.
“Order! Order!” cried Majorie.
“What will be eat?” roared Sir Humphrey Gammon, the member for Milton Keynes South. “Let’s hear you!”
“Order!” roared back Majorie.
“As you know we have some 25 new universities lying empty following our educational reform act, and these shall house the RFRCs. The Regional Farmers Rehabilitation Centres. Plenty of space to learn real farming. And may I remind my honorable friend that we will still need a lot of clever young men to put food on people’s plates. More than before, in fact.”
“I never thought they’d dare,” said Stumpy. “One in the eye for Sir Humphrey.” Sir Humphrey was Chairman of Shanghai Gammon PLC, the Sino-UK agrichemical giant which had recently acquired control of both Monsanto and Novosibirsk Fertiliser.
Then the Minister moved on to some smaller items.
“De-motorisation of gardens. The sale and use of strimmers, electrical mowers, chain saws, clippers and other motorised gardening devices will be prohibited from April 2023. They disturb the peace. And they allow work to be done far too quickly. Now that television broadcasting is down to three hours a day except, of course, for during international football tournaments” – he shot a glance over to Monty Bellows, who had fought so hard for the World Cup Exemption – “we need domestic activites to take more time. We cannot have the British people sitting idly and speculating about things.”
Everyone looked across to Sir Bernard Hogg-Roast whose controlling stake in Hortotec would be worthless when the stock exchange opened again tomorrow morning. But Sir B was unruffled – a smile darted even across his lips.
“The bastard,” whispered Stumpy. “He must have known and bloody well shorted the lot.”